It was the night before Diwali. Karnal border was as usually busy with the army officers who were busy in keeping an eye on the movements across the border. Lt. Col. Sood arrived to the base camp from his home nearby. He was already annoyed as his Diwali holiday was canceled and he had to report to the duty and his pissed off wife called him and spoke “Today is the ultimatum for you. How can you report to duty when my relatives are in town. Come home early” And she disconnected the call. Sood looked at his phone annoyed and spoke to Vikrant his subordinate “I really wonder which is more difficult understanding your wife or making your wife understand” Vikrant wanted to burst out laughing for the joke but his military training and professional protocols made him to control his laugh and he just smiled at Sood who nodded his head and walked inside the tent.
It was a routine night for the Border Security Force which was busy in guarding the border and keeping an eye on slightest movements. Their ears were trained to sense the slightest decibel of sound. As they walked to the length of the fence one of the officer heard rustling noise as if someone is running. He got alerted and walked to his senior Captain Arvind of Madras Battalion. “Sir I heard a rustling noise” said he. Arvind walked fast to his interceptor and connected to his senior Lt. Col. Sood. Vikrant received the signal of the interception and alerted Sood of it. Sood sat in front of Vikrant and instructed him to decode the message and he complied.
“Sir we have sensed movements behind the fences” spoke Arvind. “Tell him to check whether it is a wild animal. Last time also it was same” said Sood which Vikrant intercepted to Arvind.
They fired a cracker to check and found two human beings whose face wasn’t visible walking bent to hide themselves. “Sir two human beings are walking towards our border” said Arvind. And they heard firing from other side of the border. “Sir they are giving covering fire” spoke Arvind further. Border Security Force has very less time to think and react compared to any normal human beings as they have to prevent the terrorists from entering the border. “Just shoot them down” said Sood acting swiftly. Arvind walked quickly to the border to follow the orders. He was confused due to the tactics of the Army from the other side of the border. He again spoke over the interceptor “Sir they are firing to kill them not to cover” Sood was confused.
Why will they fire on their own men he thought. “I think they are Indians sir” said Arvind shocking him. But they can’t risk country’s safety just because of their doubts about the nationality of the two human beings approaching the border. And they can’t kill them also what if they are Indians. “Let them reach the border Captain then shoot them to injure. I repeat shoot them to injure” said Sood acting as swiftly as possible. Arvind complied and waited them to reach the border. He was tensed. What if they are Indians. He was praying for them to reach safely till the border. As the two of them reached the border and entered the Indian side crossing the fence the soldier hit one among them on his leg. “Hands up” screamed Arvind. “Don’t shoot” said the person whose leg was pierced with the bullet and was wincing in pain. “Hum Hindustani hai(We are Indians)” spoke the other person who was kneeling in front of them with his hands up. “Sir they are Indians” said Arvind over the intercepter. Sood sat shocked
“Ohho Ragini behen ji. This is the best music system in the town and in this village tho nobody has this music system” said a person. Ragini who was listening to music and dancing sitting on her tractor looked at him. She turned to Ankit(Sahil of Ishqbazz) her 10 year old nephew. “Is this fine?” asked she. “Awesome badi maa” said he and she smiled at him. She handed the money to the person and drove the Tractor enjoying the music. They entered their home after crossing their fields. The Diwali puja was been conducted and Ragini walked passing the people gathered and sat beside her Father in law Durga Prasad. “Durga Prasad ji the elder son of the house has to perform the Puja” said the Pandit. “My daughter in law is my elder son Pandit ji. Ragini beta go perform the Puja” said he caressing Ragini’s hair. Ragini smiled at him and stood. As she was walking “Badi maa chunni” said Ankit. She bit her tongue and covered her hair and walked to perform the Puja. Durga Prasad smiled and nodded his head.
“Wahe Guruji da Khalsa Wahe Guruji di Fateh” said she and broke the coconut.
“This is the 10th time in this Academic year Mr. Maheshwari I’m calling you for a meeting” said Mrs. Sahani, the Principal of St. Joseph School. “I do understand ma’am. I promise you this is last time” spoke Sandesh (Varun Kapoor) pleading her. He looked at his niece Swastika (Jannat Zubair) who was controlling her laugh and standing bending her head at his left. “Look how serious she is behaving” mocked the Principal. “I’m sorry from her behalf. I will make sure she doesn’t play any prank. Trust me” said he pleading. “Fine” said the Principal as she was really tired of making Swastika understand.
“Sohan” called Sandesh as they walked outside the school corridor after the meeting with Principal. Swastika burst out laughing. “Swasti” said he glaring her. “Who told her to conduct the classes during Diwali. As I missed busting crackers at home. I did it here” said she casually. Sandesh hit her head playfully. “You know I haven’t been to Principal’s room for myself also as much I have gone for you” said Sandesh walking helpless. “That’s why you are the best chachu in the world” said Swasti and hugged him and he smiled as his anxiety cooled down. “Chachu” screeched Sohan (Ayan Zubair ) approaching them. And they headed home.
“Mommy” screeched Sohan and Swastika entering home and hugging Swara who was busy arranging the dining table. She saw Sandesh entering behind them and glared Swasti. “What? I did not call. Princi only called him” said she casually biting the apple in the fruit bowl. Swara glared Sandesh who smiled at her sheepishly. “Now go do your home work” said she signing them and they walked.
“Why do you spoil her Sandesh” said Swara as she turned to him. “Swara there is a difference between spoiling and pampering” said Sandesh consoling her. “Exactly” said Swasti standing near her room door. “You are still here” said Swara glaring her. “I’m just acting as a guardian to them Swara” said Sandesh. “Like dad” said Swasti. “Get going” said Swara glaring her and she walked inside the room pouting. “They talk without thinking” said Swara and smiled nodding her head. “But I feel they say after thinking only” said Sandesh and held Swara’s shoulder standing behind her. She looked at the wall where her marriage photo was hanging and beside it one more photo in which she was standing between Sanskar and Sandesh.
“Have you seen a Pendulum?” asked she. Sandesh’s eyes were parallel to her eyes. “It will be always hanging between two sides. I’m in the same state” said she and Sandesh held her shoulders more tightly to make her understand that he is always there for her. “Choice is clear Swara. You have to make a choice” said he looking at her when her eyes met his. Life wasn’t as simple and choices are not as clear as he says. Nobody could imagine her dilemma. She sighed taking a deep breath and tried to smile but her face muscles were not responding. She turned her gaze back to the wall. It looked more appropriate.
“What are you doing Akhil” said Ragini as her brother in law Akhil dragged her to terrace and his wife Nikita walking beside her on the other side. They made her to sit on a charpai (wooden cot) and Nikita covered her head with the chunni and said “Now take photo” Akhil smiled and focused his camera phone to click her photo. Ragini was confused and was doing whatever they said. “Take a good photo” said Durga Prasad who was already present at the terrace and was witnessing them. “Bauji what is this?” asked Ragini walking to him. He held her hand and made her sit beside him. “For your marriage beta” said he shocking Ragini. She turned and looked at Akhil and Nitkita who were sitting on the cot with a laptop and were uploading her profile on a matrimonial website.
“Now why all this bauji” spoke Ragini pleading him. “You have lived enough for others bacha now its time to live for yourself” said he caressing her hair. “You tell directly na if you want to throw me out of the house” said she. “No beta. This house is yours. If you tell we will go away” said he. “Bauji” said she complaining. “Don’t worry I’m telling him to find a ghar jamai(Son in law who will stay in his in laws house only forever) only” said he. “Bauji educational qualification?” asked Akhil dragging both of their attention. DP struggled to say. “B.Com” said Ragini and he caressed her hair. “I’m happy like this bauji. Why marriage is required?” asked she. “It is required beta. You also need someone who can love you” said he smiling through his tears. “Bauji unmarried, divorced or Widow?” asked Akhil. Both of them turned to Akhil and Nikita who were watching them confused. They sensed the question had no answer. “You have any answer Bauji?” asked Ragini. Durga Prasad was silent. “When you get the answer let me know also” said she and walked back to her room.
She remembered her marriage day when she was standing with her husband at the house entrance. Her mother in law Annapurna was doing her arti. They heard a siren noise. And she looked back. A military jeep stopped at the veranda and a military officer walked and stood at the entrance crushing the decoration flowers and rangoli. “Naik Subedar Laksh Singh you are instructed to report to duty at the border” said the officer and walked back to the jeep. Ragini was numb. She wasn’t understanding anything. Laksh walked inside. Changed to the military uniform and walked out taking blessing from his mom and dad. Ragini expected him to at least look at her once but she was disappointed. She was just married. She could understand his priorities are his parent and family to which she has included recently.
Ragini wiped her tears coming to the present. She was sitting on the terrace of the house which was decorated with lights for Diwali. Though there was lot of light around her. She felt dark inside her a never ending darkness.
“So you both want to get married?” asked Sujata sitting in front of Swara who looked at her nervous and confused as they settled near pool. Swastika who was enjoying the Diwali party looked at Swara who was hiding her pain looking at her and smiling forcefully. Swastika excused herself from the guests and walked to the pool side with Sohan. Sandesh was standing beside Swara at a distance. Swasti and Sohan knelt beside Swara on her both the sides. Sujata took the letter from her purse and started reading. “Dear Mrs. Maheshwari. Why can’t Sandesh chachu become our dad forever, Love Swastika” She looked at Swasti who was smiling looking at her. “Yes mom” said Sandesh gathering all his courage. Sujata looked at him. “Yes mom I want to marry Swara” said he. Then her gaze moved to Swara who was confused. Swastika held her hand and spoke “Enough fighting mom. Now you have to live for yourself please” Swara nodded her head staring ground.
“So you have decided?” asked Sujata with heavy tone. Swara nodded her head. “Sanskar is not dead Swara. He is just missing in action” said Sujata. Swara felt low. She felt Sujata is blaming her of cheating. “He is missing from past 13 years” said Swastika as she tightened her grip on Swara’s shoulder. Swara looked at her and signed to not to talk like that. “Shut up Swastika don’t speak between elders” warned Sujata. “What is wrong Dadi? If mom want to move on what’s the problem. He wasn’t there in our life Sandy chachu was there. What if they move on?” asked she. “Sandesh let’s leave” said Sujata. He looked at her helplessly. They weren’t committing any crime. They officially wanted to get married. Swara had waited for Sanskar from past 13 years. She also needed someone in her life as the wait looked unending.
The landline of their home rang. Sandesh walked to it and received it. The landline slipped from his hand as he heard the other person.
“Raman Bhalla” said Ahok Mehra the chief of Intelligence Wing of Indian Army when he was walking at the corridor or Indian Army Intelligence Training Institute. The departmental head escorted him to a classroom
“Don’t fight like a lion. Fight like a lizard. That’s the main lesson of your training as intelligence officer” said Raman and as he turned to board he found Ashok standing. The bell rang and the students walked out of the class. Ashok entered with his assistant Prakash.
“We have found two Indian soldiers who are successful in crossing the border safe. And as per the data collected from Indian Army and Indian Air force they have been identified as Naik Subedar Lakshya Singh and Squadron Leader Sanskar Maheshwari. DNA tests are positive” said Ashok as they were seated in the class. “It is confirmed that they were missing from 13 years during the war” said Prakash. “So what you want me to do?” asked Raman. “We want you to investigate…” said Ashok and was stopped by Raman who said “Whether they have escaped or been sent” “Exactly, Investigate it and you only have to handle the media as it is high profile case” said Ashok smiling at him. “Their families have been informed?” asked Raman. “Yes they are arriving today” said Ashok. “Great. Let them meet their families” said Raman.
“Night before Diwali night we have found two Indian soldiers who were crossing the border. The soldiers were held captive during the war. They have been successful in escaping. And Indian Army and Air force has recognized the soldiers and DNA tests are positive.” said Raman to the media sitting along with Ashok for the press conference. “Sir has their families informed?” asked one of the reporter. “Yes as we speak the families are on their way” said Ashok.
“Choice is clear Swara” Sandesh’s voice ringed in her mind. As they were heading to the military head office in car Sandesh who was driving the car adjusted the rear mirror and looked at Swara who looked back at him. They had no expression. Her nightmare was coming true. She should have waited just for one more day before making her heart ready to accept it’s feelings. She should have waited. Her mind was over powering her heart.
Swara and Sujata were sitting in a front row of the reception. Durga Prasad was sitting behind them with Akhil and Nikita. Sohan and Ankit were playing video game sitting at a corner. Sandesh was standing at the back with Swastika. Ragini sat at a side sofa which was away from everyone. Swara looked the wall clock whose Pendulum was moving left to right and then back to left. “Have you seen a pendulum. It can never decide which side it has to be. I’m in the same situation” she remembered her own words. Sandesh’s eyes were fixed on her like he can sense her confusions. Swara looked around and walked to Ragini. She sat beside her. Both were in the similar situation. They were going to meet that person of their life who was most important to them but were confused as the time has came so forward that they were not finding a right place to accommodate them. A confusion, an unknown fear was creeping inside them. Swara kept her hand on Ragini’s shivering hand as she was the only person who could understand Ragini’s situation and confusions. Ragini looked up at her. Swara gave her small smile to assure her everything will be fine. Ragini felt a bit relaxed.
They heard people walking and stood up. They could see many people walking behind a semi transparent glass walls. Every step of theirs and every second of the time was increasing Swara and Ragini’s heart beat and anxiety, nervousness.
As they walked passing the glass walls the picture was clear. Finally the wait of 13 years ended. Sanskar was standing with the help of walking stick as the bullet wound was still fresh. And Lakshya was standing beside him scared. Sujata walked to Sanskar and held his cheek with her one hand. As soon as he recognized his mom’s touch his tears had no limit and they found their way out of his eyes. Sujata’s eyes reflected his pain. As his left hand moved and held her hand. She smiled through her tears feeling her son’s lively touch after more than a decade. Sanskar dragged her to a side hug and she cried her heart out. Swara moved hesitantly to him. She was feeling strange, may be guilty for letting her emotions overpower her. She cursed herself for even thinking of moving on. She stood in front of him blank. She left a lump of breath. She moved her hand hesitantly to touch his face which was full of bruises. Sujata stood beside and Sanskar limped and walked to her.
She was not able to define her feelings. It felt strange it felt like hell. She was damn angry on herself. Sanskar closed his eyes feeling her touch and kissed her palm when she held his face finally. She hugged him immediately. Swastika looked at them shocked and her eyes moved to Sandesh. She could sense his pain but she was not understanding how to react. She was confused with her mom’s behavior. Sanskar looked at Sandesh who smiled at him hiding his pain. “Hi I’m Sohan” said Sohan introducing himself to Sanskar. Sanskar shook hand with him and smiled. Swara signed Swastika to come and she walked hesitantly. “Swastika” said Swara introducing her. Swasti smiled at Sanskar like they way we smile at strangers. He was a stranger only. He had left them when she did not even had started speaking. She could not blame him. But she had always seen Sandesh in her dad’s place. Now placing Sanskar in that position looked quite impossible for her. She was hell confused. Whatever she was doing was for cutesy not for the fact that he was her father.
Lakshya walked to Durga Prasad who was the only figure whom he was able to recognize. Durga Prasad was so happy. An elder son is the dream of his dad as the first kid is always special. As Lakshya stood in front of him he felt his life returning after 13 years. 13 years were not easy for him. He missed Lakshya always. Though Ragini fulfilled all the duties of a elder son but the strength Lakshya’s presence used to bring he had gained it back. He touched Lakshya’s face with his shivering hands. Akhil and Nikita were standing on his either sides. Lakshya felt a homely touch and tears gushed down his cheeks as he couldn’t control his emotions. He touched his father’s hand to feel the life again. “Bebe?” asked Lakshya asking for Annapurna whom he did not find. Durga Prasad nodded his head and Lakshya’s heart broke into pieces when he realized as his mom was no more. Now he felt that pain of missing major 13 years of his life as he could not see his mom for the last time. “Maa” cried he hugging Durga Prasad who rubbed his back to console him.
“Akhil and this his wife Nikita and son Ankit” said DP introducing. He looked back where Ragini was standing. He signed her to come. She walked slowly. Her hands shivered and she was holding her emotions. She was strong all these days. He left her on the day of marriage. She did not cry that day. She took life as a challenge and took all his responsibilities on her head. She did not even expect that he will return. Now when he was standing in front of her she did not knew how to react or to even look into his eyes. It felt she was meeting a known stranger. As she stood in front of him she was confused what to talk. The word she will speak was the first word between them of their life. She has to break the 13 year silence and she was searching a word to describe her feelings. After a long pause she spoke “Sat shree akaal ji(Namaste in Punjabi)” and her tear dam busted and she held her folded hands near her lips to control herself from scattering. Lakshya was confused equally.
He wasn’t even recognizing her. He wasn’t understanding her pain. Her pain to wait for him for 13 years as he wasn’t feeling any emotional connection with anyone. He was innocent enough to even not able to express his feelings which were dead due the 13 year torture he had suffered. He folded his hand in Namaste looking at Ragini. Durga Prasad held Ragini’s hand and made Lakshya to hold it and he hugged them from his both the sides. Ragini was still staring ground and tears were uncontrollably flowing from her eyes.
“Media is waiting outside” said Raman and walked out with both of them. Sanskar and Lakshya stood in front of the media and waved their hands and smiled. Sanskar handed a chit to Lakshya. “Don’t worry nobody will come to know” said Sanskar. Lakshya looked at him confused. Sanskar did not turn his head he was just waving his hand to media and smiling. “But Sir ji” said Lakshya who was horrified. “I said na nobody will know anything. Call to this number. Its my house land line number” said Sanskar and continued waving his hand and smiling. Lakshya placed the chit inside his kurta pocket and waved his hand to media and tried smiling as they were standing near the gate which was closed and media was trying to get inside.
Their families were standing at the varanda. Raman was watching them standing at the door. His face had no expression. “What is running in your mind Raman?” asked Ashok standing beside him. “Don’t you find it odd these people entered Indian territory too easily. I mean they did not get killed though they were clearly visible to the enemy. They got hurt also with the Indian bullet. Something is fishy” said he and continued staring them.
So here is the first chapter. Do let me know how is it. I know I said I will publish on 20th feb but thought of sharing this as I just shared my thoughts in my post last time. There are quite lot of changes from the original as I have to accommodate the characters.
Sandesh and Sanskar are identical twins. As there was a triangle in initial chapters so I thought of twins idea as you don’t miss SwaSan. No changes in RagLak track. As I said earlier only both the couples and all the characters are important in the story. RagLak has to face different challenges and SwaSan different challenges. How they face it and come out of it you got to wait for the story to unfold. Thank you guys for voting.